The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism 1800-1930
Ernest R. Sandeen. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1970. 328 pages.
This study by Sandeen is one which makes a very important contribution to the historiography of Fundamentalism. As Sandeen states at the outset, most of the studies of Fundamentalism have concentrated on the events of the 1920’s, and have been preoccupied with the reaction to biblical criticism and evolutionary science. Sandeen’s purpose, therefore, is “to provide historical evidence for the argument that Fundamentalism existed as a religious movement before, during, and after the controversy of the twenties (p. xiii). Specifically, he seeks to document that it was millenarianism which gave life and shape to the Fundamentalist movement.
The study is marked throughout by careful documentation and brings to light many facts which have generally been ignored by other writers. Sandeen makes no attempt to hide his lack of sympathy for the movement; nevertheless there is a remarkable objectivity which permeates the work. It is now time for Fundamentalists to respond by a similar attempt at an objective appraisal of their own history.
A final comment should be made regarding the bibliography. Sandeen has provided a well-organized bibliography of over twenty pages, as well as several pages concerning the historiography of Fundamentalism and Millenarianism. These pages provide an invaluable aid to the further study of the movements or specific aspects of the movement.